Until six years ago, Eugenia Uwamahoro and several of her eight children had to trek 2 kilometres each day to a river to get about 140 litres of water for drinking, cooking, washing and feeding her four cows. There was a water pump in her village, Nyakabingo, in Rwanda’s Gicumbi district, but it hardly functioned. Then the Rwandan government, with financial support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), repaired the pump, and the community contracted a private manager to maintain it.
“It has improved my life,” Ms. Uwamahoro told African Renewal. “Now we can rest.” Not only has the pump saved her considerable time and effort, but she also gets her household’s daily water supply at lower cost than she would have from the private village water carriers who cart it up from the river.
Many villagers “are happy to pay for the improved service,” says Kamaru Tstoneste, who operates the pump. But some villagers cannot afford the cost. So community leaders compiled a list of the neediest households, and review it from time to time. “This group gets an agreed quantity of free supply,” Mr. Tstoneste told Africa Renewal. Still, he adds, “Old habits die hard. There are those who refuse to pay for water and still go to the river.”